#followfriday - 4 Indigenous Women in Science to Follow
By Erin Blondeau
Science has been a predominantly white male discipline. It’s certainly no secret: as we flip through old science texts, it’s one white man after another. Though, on growing occasion, we’ve seen women defy the odds and break into the sciences, regardless of the discrimination and difficulties they face. However, it is even less frequent that we see Indigenous women in science. It's likely that the perceived gap in representation is a combination of media bias and lack of opportunity, but we know that there are Indigenous scientists out there. For this #followfriday, we are highlighting four prodigious Indigenous women who have accomplished great things in multiple fields of science.
It is encouraging to explore their work, their passion, and their accomplishments. We are so proud to share them and their unique research with you.
We hope this will inspire other Indigenous people to follow their dreams into any industry, regardless of a lack of representation.
Dr. Desi Small-Rodriguez
Desi Small-Rodriguez (Northern Cheyenne Nation and Chicana) is from Lame Deer, Montana. She holds two PhDs––one in sociology and one in demography (the statistical study of human populations). Indigenous leaders like Desi are disrupting the historical biases and racist projections that have often plagued disciplines like sociology and human statistics. Some of her research has focussed on race, data, Indigeneity, and inequality. She is also an Assistant Professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Indigenous perspectives in the social sciences are important because history has shown us what happens when ethnocentrism and a white-lens dominates the conversation. Social science has been the foundation of much hurt and institutional racism, but incredible women like Desi are coming in to shake things up. Her Instagram feed is a beautiful mix of exploring the land, smiling faces of happy children, and the embodiment of her culture.
Desi is also a co-host of the All My Relations podcast. Be sure to explore her social media and website to learn about the important and inclusive work she is doing.
Dr. Lydia Jennings
Lydia Jennings is a self-described soil nerd. She has her PhD in environmental microbiology, which means she’s really passionate about the organisms in our soil, as all we should be. According to her website, she grew up in New Mexico (Tewa lands) and is Huichol (Wixáritari) and Pascua Yaqui (Yoeme).
As one third of a running trio, Lydia will also be taking part in an exciting project to run over 209 kilometres (130 miles) through Colorado and Utah. Lydia hopes to raise awareness about the importance of soil as she runs and experiences the land, while inspiring important conversations around environmental stewardship. Soil is often forgotten when we think about environmental sustainability, yet it is the lifeforce of every plant. When we have healthy soils, we have healthy plants and organisms!
Her academic and lived experience provides a wealth of knowledge on the link between the land and Indigeneity. Her biography on the University of Arizona website reads: “My dissertation research focuses on the identification and characterization of microbial indicators as tools to evaluate mine waste reclamation, while my minor research in American Indian Policy focuses on the laws around mining on federal lands to which tribes have ancestral claims.”
Incredible shots of the desert can be seen on Lydia’s Instagram, with beautiful sunsets and bodies of water. Maarsii to Lydia for the important work she’s doing.
Dr. Ally Menzies
Ally is a wildlife biologist with Métis and settler ancestry, currently living on Treaty 1 and 2 territory and the homeland of the Métis Nation, also known as Manitoba. She holds a PhD in Renewable Resources from McGill University. Her passion for nature, animals, and the land shines through clearly on her social media and her website, where she can be seen smiling with pure joy at the animals that she has worked with.
According to her website, Ally has studied many facets of animal behaviour, including bat behaviour, hibernation energetics, and how boreal animals respond to changes in their cold, food-limited winter environments. Her research on Indigenous science and environmental perspectives is inspirational as she advocates for including Indigenous knowledge when studying animals and changes in the environment.
On her website, you can find a collection of articles that Ally has curated for women interested in science and Indigenous ways of knowing. Ally’s passion for animals and for sharing her knowledge is uplifting; I will certainly be revisiting her website in my own journey through environmental science.
Follow Ally on social and check out her website for her recent work.
Dr. Marcia J Anderson
Marcia is Cree-Anishinaabe and grew up in Winnipeg. As a leader in Indigenous health, she was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2018 by Women’s Executive Network. She has an incredible list of accomplishments that have improved the lives of Indigenous peoples across the land known as Canada. Some of these accomplishments include “improving the physician vacancy rate in the Northern Medical Unit from approximately 50 per cent to 5 per cent,” working as the Chair of the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress, and being an important advocate for Indigenous peoples during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcia is the youngest president of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, an organization that focuses on helping Métis, First Nations, and Inuit youth break into the medical field. The association also supports people who are currently studying and training for medical roles.
Marcia has also been outspoken about COVID-19, namely in Indigenous communities. As Indigenous people, we know our history of medical trauma brought on by the government, so our distrust can run deep. Marcia recognizes this, and continues to share her in-depth medical knowledge with Indigenous communities to help keep everyone safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Follow Marcia’s Twitter for timely updates on her work, and her Instagram for a more personal view into her life.